If you love chocolate, you should make sure your enjoyment is not at the expense of someone’s freedom. Many of the most popular chocolate brands out there, like Hershey’s, Nestle and Mars, have cacao beans from sources that are known to use child and slave labor. I’ve done a lot of research and luckily, there are many delicious fair trade chocolate brands to choose from instead. By choosing fair trade, you help ensure that your chocolate is free of human suffering.
If we want to see a better world, we need vote with our money. Being conscious consumers means making purchases that are aligned with our values. In other words, not supporting heartless chocolate companies that have modern day slavery built into their business model. We can help improve this world one fair trade chocolate bar at a time.
- The Problem With Chocolate
- Conditions on Chocolate Plantations
- What Does Fair Trade Mean?
- Fair Trade Chocolate Brands
- Vegan Chocolate
The Problem With Chocolate
The vast majority of cacao beans (aka cocoa beans) used in mainstream chocolate come from the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Unfortunately, the chocolate industry there is highly unregulated, with unthinkably inhumane practices in place to keep prices competitive. Farmers are paid slave wages at a mere $1 per day. This means they don’t have the funds to hire workers to keep up with the demand, so children are forced to work. Children are actually taken from their families in Mali and other nearby countries, smuggled across the border to Ghana and Ivory Coast, and sold to work the cacao plantations. Some children are as young as 5 years old, and conditions are very dangerous.
What do the big chocolate corporations do? They turn a blind eye. They say “I haven’t seen it so I can’t be responsible for it, but if it’s happening that’s unacceptable.” However, they know very well that they are paying slave wages to the farmers, and they know the desperate conditions are directly linked to their refusal to pay fair wages. And though they deny it, they do know about the issues of child labor, but refuse to take responsibility. But no matter how they ignore or deny it, they are responsible for the source of the ingredients in their chocolate bars. Period. And how do chocolate companies get away with it? Us. We buy the chocolate.
If the companies won’t change, we as consumers are fully responsible for boycotting those companies that produce chocolate by way of slave wages and child labor.
Conditions on Chocolate Plantations
The conditions on cacao plantations are harsh for an adult let alone a child. First off, the work is demanding. Children have to carry extremely heavy loads, climb tall trees, use sharp and dangerous tools, and be exposed to hazardous levels of pesticides. The work hours are long and many of them are paid absolutely nothing, despite the promise of money during the initial capture from their home. Instead of being in school, they work the plantations, often in a state of slavery, to keep chocolate affordable for privileged children around the world. See the documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate for heartbreaking insight on the production of chocolate from child’s home capture to plantation to chocolate bar.
What does fair trade mean?
Fair trade chocolate means that the farmers are paid fair, living wages and that there was no child labor involved in the production of the chocolate. Fair trade chocolate brands have a set of standards that they must adhere to to keep their certification. Look for these labels when choosing chocolate:
Here’s a video from Equal Exchange about what Fair Trade is and why it matters:
Fair Trade Chocolate Brands
Here are some common fair trade chocolate brands that you can find easily at your local Whole Foods, Sprouts or health food store. Even some major mainstream supermarket chains and pharmacies are starting to carry some of these brands, making ethical chocolate choices even more effortless. Some of the brands provided an exclusive statement about fair trade for this blog, which I’m super grateful for:
Fair for Life | USDA Organic | Non-GMO | Kosher | Vegan options
Endangered Species Chocolate
Fair Trade | Non-GMO | vegan options
USDA Organic | Fair Trade Federation Member | Worker-Owned Cooperative | Equal Exchange | Green America Certified Business | Vegan options
Statement from Equal Exchange:
“In 1986, Equal Exchange was founded to challenge the existing trade model, which favors large plantations, agri-business, and multi-national corporations; support small farmers; and connect consumers and producers through information, education, and the exchange of products in the marketplace. With our founding, we joined a growing movement of small farmers, alternative traders (ATOs), religious organizations, and non-profits throughout the world with like-minded principles and objectives. Underlying our work is the belief that only through organization, can small farmers survive and thrive. The cooperative model has been essential for building this model of change.”
USDA Organic | Fair Trade Certified | Climate Neutral Certified | Forest Stewardship Council | vegan options
Fair Trade | Owned By Cacao Farmers | Organic Options | Vegan Options
Rainforest Alliance Certified | Fair Trade Certified | USDA Organic | Non-GMO
Fair Trade Certified Ingredients | Non-GMO | vegan options
Statement from UnReal Chocolate:
“UNREAL knows that the best tasting chocolate snacks can be made with clean, responsible ingredients for the good of our health, the planet, and the farmers. It’s essential that the farmers who grow our cocoa have safe working conditions, sustainable wages, and access to the Fair Trade premiums, which are used to invest in community development. We’re proud to say that all of our products are fair trade certified.“
Fair Trade Certified Ingredients | USDA Organic | vegan options
Fair Trade Certified Ingredients | USDA Organic | Non-GMO
If you want to ensure that your chocolate is free of animal suffering as well, it’s important to choose brands that are fair trade AND vegan. Humans suffer in the production, so fair trade is essential to make sure you are boycotting those practices. However, dairy cows also suffer tremendously and are kept in horrifying, torturous conditions to produce the milk in milk chocolate. If you want a chocolate bar that is truly humane, it needs to be both fair trade and dairy-free (vegan).
All of the Fair Trade Chocolate Brands listed above have excellent vegan options available. Here are some brands that are Fair Trade and 100 percent vegan.
Vegan | Fair Trade Ingredients | Rainforest Alliance Certified | USDA Organic
Vegan | Direct Trade | USDA Organic
Statement from beyond good:
“It’s always been our mission to create high quality chocolate that not only taste good, but is good for you and everyone involved. That process begins with making sure our raw materials are sourced from farms using sustainable practices that also enforce NO child labor, monkey labor or slave labor.”
Vegan | Fair Trade Ecuadorian Chocolate | USDA Organic
Statement from the founder, Lulu:
“Beyond it being the right thing to do according to the Golden Rule, there are also energetic reasons to go Fair Trade. We believe that food carries energetic imprints, which affect the consumer. We want only good energy going into our cacao…this means from the time the cacao pods are taken from the tree (nature is always good vibes of course) until our product lands in your hand. This means we have to take care of the farmers and every single person who has a hand in the work that goes into our product. We want the farmers to be thriving and happy to do what they do. That goes into the cacao. We believe this not only serves Love & Unity consciousness, but also makes the chocolate feel and taste even better!”
Vegan | Direct Trade | USDA Organic | Non-GMO
Go Max GO
Vegan | Fair Trade Cocoa | Ethically SourceD Palm Oil | Non-GMO
Opt for these fair trade chocolate brands next time you are craving some chocolatey goodness. With these amazing options, there is no excuse whatsoever to support companies that use slaves and children to produce their chocolate.
Is your chocolate brand fair trade but you don’t see it listed? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be sure to add you!